The Death of The Individual

Network (1976) is a film about the corporatization of the media. The story follows the members of a major network as it is bought out by a large conglomerate and is forced to sensationalize its news department in order to draw ratings. The movie itself is prophetic because it very nearly predicts the rise of reality television and a state of things where former notions of "authenticity" or "objectivity" in news reporting are irrelevant, taken over by editorialization. Here presented is a scene from the film where Howard Beale, a former news anchor-turned evangelist against corporations, is being lectured by the CEO of the company that bought the network for which Beale works. I think this scene articulates the fears of many when they think about globalization - that the process will cause society to become more and more complex until the individual becomes completely depersonalized. Or, that as the powers of corporations rise, as they create novel linkages, the individuals involved in them won't matter, as long as the corporation is turning a profit. The analogue that the movie presents is the effect of the big corporation on the smaller news department and the journalists themselves. Their personal "primal doubts" about the authenticity of their work don't matter, only the ratings that the network receives. The question about whether globalization has made individuals less important is an interesting one. Network itself is over twenty years old, filmed at a time when the velocity of change associated with globalization was just beginning to make manifest. Certainly, the size of corporations has grown since then, but one might consider that the idea of "uploading" has allowed individuals connected to the internet to make themselves noticeable with perhaps the smallest effort in the history of mankind.